The Managing Director of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation presented at the Disaster and Preparedness Seminar hosted by the US State Department in Trinidad and Tobago. Bervoets presented on Ecosystem and Environmental Health in the Face of Natural Disasters.
The seminar was hosted by the United States Department of State and focused on the lessons learnt and plans of approach in responding to disasters in the Caribbean Region. Attendees at the workshop had previous experience with the US State Department Programs and are disaster response practitioners in their respective countries and territories. The attendance of Bervoets was suggested by the US Consul General’s office in Curacao.
Based on the Nature Foundation’s experience responding to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Bervoets presented on the health and safety of personnel, the need for a scenario-based preparedness plan, the need for good ecosystem data, the need for a solid waste management plan in the event of a disaster, and the importance of including conservation management organizations in Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Teams; “We have learned valuable lessons as a Conservation NGO regarding our response to natural disasters and preparedness for disasters to come. Some of the things we really learned were the need for proper communication and that disaster preparedness and response should be included in Protected Area Management Plans. We are very adamant that all stakeholders, including governments, should start communicating that the importance of Natural Resource Conservation in terms of resiliency is critical. And that, in just a few weeks, we need to be prepared for what seems to be another very active Hurricane Season,” commented Bervoets.
The Nature Foundation, through the aid of the US Department of State, will be initiating community based projects to increase ecosystem resiliency in the face of increasing disasters brought about by climate change.
“We need to be aware that we will face challenges moving forward with regards to Climate Change. The Caribbean is at the frontlines of the effects of a changing climate. All stakeholders must ensure that we are as resilient as a country and as a region in the face of disasters. And a disaster is a mismanaged emergency,” concluded Bervoets.